Mueller unveils first charges in Trump-Russia probe Transcript 10/30/17 The Rachel Maddow Show
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: October 30, 2017
Guest: Greg Farrell, Paul Fishman
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN: That`s great point. Neil Katyal, thanks
for joining us.
That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Monday.
So, Paul Manafort`s neighbors are very, very considerate people. It is
also possible they`re just very, very heavy sleepers. I don`t know. But
we now know that armed FBI agents carried out a large, intrusive, surprise
pre-dawn raid at Paul Manafort`s home on July 26, and that itself is a
dramatic thing which turned out to have dramatic consequence which is an
important point in the investigation. It must have been an incredible
moment for Paul Manafort and his family and his defense team and probably
for everybody involved in the Trump campaign when that raid happened.
But what remains the most perplexing thing to me about the July 26th FBI
raid on Paul Manafort`s house is that none of his neighbors said anything
about it for two weeks, and maybe not even then. The first report that
that FBI raid had happened at Manafort`s house was a full two weeks after
it happened. When the “Washington Post” broke that scoop, it wasn`t like
they were turning up a document or they found that someone had said a thing
to somebody else. No, they were reporting on a large predawn physical
thing that the FBI did in a public place with other people around.
Nobody peeps, and it`s not like he lived a mile and a half down some
driveway and he was down a hall, nobody could see what was happening. It
was right there. Nobody said anything for two weeks.
And now we know that the very next day, the day after the FBI raid, also in
public at the airport at Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C., the day after
that FBI raid, we now found out the FBI arrested a Trump campaign foreign
policy advisor who was kind of a high-profile person in this national
scandal. We`ve all been simmering through for months.
George Papadopoulos got named in August, again by “The Washington Post”,
for having authored a number of proposals on the Trump campaign that Donald
Trump should visit Moscow, that he, George Papadopoulos could totally make
that happen. I mean, he was a named person in relation to this Russia
scandal that`s been the biggest story in politics for months now.
But we now know that back in July he got arrested in conjunction with this
probe at Dulles Airport, and that arrest didn`t leak for three months.
They somehow arrested him and kept the arrest secret. And then after that
arrest, through August, through September, into the start of October,
Papadopoulos was – how did they describe it? – proactively cooperating
with the Mueller investigation. And nobody had any idea. Not a single
feather of that peeped all this time.
On October 5th, Papadopoulos was criminally charged. He pled guilty in
person at the federal district court in Washington, D.C. Nobody had any
idea. I mean, it`s Washington fashionable now to complain about how
terribly leaky everything is, and I will admit it has been fun to have
people leak to us the anti-leaking trainings they`ve been forced to do at
one or another government agencies.
But when it comes to the Mueller investigation, it`s really not leaky, not
given all that they`ve been doing. I mean, CNN does turn out to have been
right in their initial report on Friday night that a sealed indictment had
been filed that day. You can see by the date and the signature at the
bottom of the Paul Manafort, Rick Gates indictment today. It was unsealed
today. You can see at the bottom of that document that it was, in fact,
signed and sealed on Friday.
But even with the existence of an indictment leaking out on Friday night,
nobody had any reporting about George Papadopoulos being secretly arrested
or cooperating or being charged or pleading guilty, all of which has
happened over the last few months. Nobody had any idea. And it wasn`t
until this morning when people saw Paul Manafort and Rick Gates physically
on the move toward an FBI office in Washington. Nobody knew until then
that it was Paul Manafort and Rick Gates who were named in the indictment
that was unsealed today.
And that is particularly interesting given that we learned in court today
that Paul Manafort and Rick Gates had to hand over their passports
yesterday. Even so, we didn`t know until today that it was them. So, it
is, it is easy to cynically complain about how many leaks there are around
this investigation, but in this case on the contrary, au contraire, this
was really explosive stuff. That was an absolute total surprise today when
it all got unsealed.
And so, that`s the first question, right? Why did this all get unsealed
The indictment against Rick Gates and Paul Manafort was sealed since
Friday. It was unsealed today. The criminal charge and guilty plea for
George Papadopoulos were sealed since October 5th, but unsealed today. The
arrest and the criminal complaint against Papadopoulos, those were sealed
from late July, but they were unsealed today.
The judge`s order compelling Paul Manafort`s lawyer to testify to the grand
jury, that was signed and sealed on October 2nd, but it, too, was partially
unsealed today. I say partially because I can show you on screen there
right now some of the redactions from that judge`s order requiring Paul
Manafort`s lawyer to testify.
So, the government, in this case the special counsel, they`re forced by the
judicial process to articulate and defend their reasons when they want to
do things under seal, when they want to do things in a way that`s kept
secret from the public. Because of that, we have explanations from the
special counsel`s office in all of these unsealed documents today as to why
the special counsel argued that these – that matters couldn`t be unsealed
before. Why they had to be secret, at least for a time.
But we have no explanation on any of these documents today as to why today
was a good day to stop sealing them. Why – I get the arguments why they
had to be secret before. Why did it stop being secret today?
Now, that`s a question I`m not sure we`re going to be able to get an answer
to at this point in the special counsel`s investigation. I think that`s
part of their larger strategy. But there are a bunch of outstanding
questions we can answer with reporting and with expert help tonight. And
so, that`s part of what we`re going to try to do tonight.
First, I`ll just say a couple of things I think are important things that
we learned today from the unsealing of all these documents, from the
charges that have been filed against gates and Manafort and Papadopoulos.
I`ll say a few things that we learned, but then most of what I have is a
list of questions. OK, first, though, things we learned.
From the George Papadopoulos statement of the offense, which lays out the
government`s involvement with George Papadopoulos so far. It explains the
charges against him, et cetera.
From that document, we learn, first of all, that months before the American
public ever heard anything about it, the Trump campaign was told and
apparently believed that, in fact, the Russian government had hacked
thousands of Democratic e-mails. I mean, the first time that we the public
ever had any idea that there was any Russian involvement whatsoever in the
election, that Russia had been involved in hacking into and stealing
Democratic Party documents, first time we all knew about that was June 14th
last year in “The Washington Post”. But the Trump campaign knew way before
Soon after George Papadopoulos was named one of Donald Trump`s five foreign
policy advisors last spring, he was informed in April that the Russians had
dirt on Hillary Clinton, that they had thousands of e-mails. So, the Trump
campaign was told about the Russian effort to interfere in our election and
to hurt Hillary Clinton`s chances in the election. The Trump campaign
heard about that months before any of the rest of us heard about it from
anybody. That`s new.
MADDOW: Second thing that we learned from the Papadopoulos statement of
events is that there wasn`t just one instance where the Trump campaign had
its officials meet with Russian operatives to try to get dirt on Hillary
Clinton that had been obtained by Russia. It turns out there were two of
those instances, not one. There was the Trump tower meeting in June of
last year with Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, right, and
all those Russians. But now we know before then there was another. In
April, this Trump foreign policy advisor did the same thing. And the
statement of the offense related to him is opaque as to whether or not
George Papadopoulos actually received anything from the Russians that was
of value to the campaign about Hillary Clinton or Democrats.
But after being advised that the Russians had thousands of Democratic
documents and the dirt on Hillary Clinton, Papadopoulos from the Trump
campaign kept meeting with those Russian sources and sought additional
high-level meetings for other people from the Trump campaign to meet with
his Russian sources, including one person he hilariously believed was
Vladimir Putin`s niece. She was not Vladimir Putin`s niece. He thought
So, those are a couple very new things that we learned today from this
newly unsealed guilty plea from George Papadopoulos.
MADDOW: Now, it`s important to note that when it comes to the Papadopoulos
stuff, these are not just allegations by the government. Those things,
including the information that Russia had hacked Democratic documents and
that they had dirt on Hillary Clinton and the Trump campaign taking a
meeting to try to get that stuff from the Russians, those aren`t just
allegations from the government. In the Papadopoulos statement of the
offense, he very carefully attests to all of that stuff as fact.
This young man, this Trump foreign policy advisor, attests that, in fact,
all of these statements by the government are true. So, I mean, we learned
some interesting stuff there. There are still a lot of questions about
him, for example, what did the government have him do between the time when
they secretly arrested him on July 27th at Dulles Airport and the time they
finally charged him in early October?
So, the end of July, all the way through August, all the way through
September, all the way through the beginning of October, the government
describes him as proactively cooperating. What was he doing for them? Did
he tell anybody that he had been arrested, that he was secretly proactively
cooperating with the Mueller investigation? Did he take meetings or engage
with anybody from the Trump campaign or the Trump administration during
that time? Does the treatment of George Papadopoulos by the court and by
the special counsel`s office after they secured that cooperation from him,
does that tell us anything about how valuable he was to them as a
And what`s the connection between Papadopoulos and this guilty plea that
he`s made for lying to the FBI, right? What`s the connection between
Papadopoulos` case, this guilty plea, and Paul Manafort and Rick Gates
getting indicted, right? Obviously that guilty plea, that information of
what Papadopoulos has been doing with the special counsel`s office, that
was unsealed at the same time as the charges were unsealed against Manafort
and Gates. What`s the connection there? There`s nothing in the Manafort
and Gates indictment that directly mentions George Papadopoulos. There`s
nothing about Russia at all in the Manafort/Gates indictment.
There`s plenty about Russia in the Papadopoulos documents, but there`s no
direct mention of Manafort or Gates. Now, it`s possible to sort of
triangulate from some early reporting and some e-mails obtained by “The
Washington Post” in August that basically show you that some of the people
who were involved in e-mail communications around Papadopoulos` Russia
proposals so those people may have been Manafort and Gates in an instance
or two. But their names don`t turn up in any of his paperwork.
Why is that? Is there a connection between this kid pleading guilty and
these guys getting indicted? Why are they both getting unsealed the same
day? Why was Papadopoulos arrested a day after Paul Manafort`s house was
raided by the FBI?
And does the fact they were unsealed the same day tell us about one of them
being used against the other or is it a coincidence?
MADDOW: Here`s one last point on Papadopoulos. When “The Washington Post”
obtained those e-mails back in August, when the “Washington Post” reported
back in August that George Papadopoulos, this foreign policy adviser to the
campaign, had made proposals to the campaign about Russia, that Trump
should visit Moscow and should meet with Putin among other brilliant ideas,
whoever shared those e-mails from him with “The Washington Post”, Manafort
– excuse me, a tickle in my throat that sounds like Paul Manafort.
Whoever shared those e-mails from George Papadopoulos with “The Washington
Post” back in August took care to excerpt those e-mails very artistically.
So, what it looks like in “The Washington Post” back in August was it
looked like this kid, Papadopoulos, proposed all these Russia contacts, but
he was roundly shut down by the sober, not at all Russia compromised senior
officials on the Trump campaign to whom he had written.
These tidy little excerpts were fed to “The Washington Post” in August.
They left out things that do turn up from those e-mails now in the
indictment. A campaign official, for example, telling George Papadopoulos
that his efforts to arrange a meeting between us and the Russian
leadership, those efforts were, quote, great work, according to his
When George Papadopoulos proposed that he himself or other representatives
from the campaign should travel to Moscow and take meetings with Russian
officials during the campaign, was conveniently left out of those e-mails
when they were leaked to “The Washington Post”. That the response from his
supervisor on the Trump campaign was, quote, I would encourage you to make
the trip if it`s feasible. Go to Russia. Go to Russia.
Papadopoulos also wrote to the Russians in mid-July proposing a meeting for
August or September between the Trump campaign and the Russians in the U.K.
He said that such a meeting should involve himself and, quote, my national
chairman who at that point would have been Paul Manafort and maybe one
other foreign policy advisor. Papadopoulos suggested in this e-mail to his
Russian contact that the meetings should involve you, his Russian contact,
also members of the Russian ministry of foreign affairs and it should also
involve members of President Putin`s office. This meeting he was trying to
set up last summer according to Papadopoulos, quote, has been approved from
our side – whether or not George Papadopoulos was lying to the Russians
about that proposed meeting being approved from our side, from the Trump
Now, the other document cited in these unsealed filings in his case today
aren`t just Papadopoulos describing things. The other stuff that turned up
in the statement of offense today, in his guilty plea, those documents are
other members of the Trump campaign OK-ing and encouraging his work with
Are those other people from the Trump campaign potentially in trouble? And
is that why none of their names appear in the documents about Papadopoulos
today, even though we can kind of figure out who they all are?
Then there`s the Manafort and the Gates indictment. Now, unlike the George
Papadopoulos documents, what we`ve gotten in terms of this indictment about
Gates and Manafort, this is not a case where both sides, both prosecution
and the defense attest to the veracity of these facts. So, you have to see
the Manafort/Gates indictment with more skepticism, right?
George Papadopoulos agreed in front of a judge with everything the
government put in those filings when he pled guilty. He attested it was
all true. In contrast, Manafort and Gates today pled not guilty. So, what
we read today in their indictment is really just the government`s side of
the case. And you have to keep that in mind, right?
But keeping that in mind, what the government alleges in that indictment,
at least sheds a lot of light on how the government is approaching the
Trump campaign and specifically the chairman of that campaign. For one
thing, it tells us why Paul Manafort`s house got raided in the middle of
the night on July 26, which none of his neighbors conveniently noticed, and
MADDOW: In the indictment unsealed today against Trump campaign Paul
Manafort and Trump campaign official Rick Gates, parts of the government`s
case that they illegally worked as agents of a foreign power without
registering as such, and then lied about that fact to the government. Part
of the government`s case there is based on lobbying records that the
government says they found at Paul Manafort`s house when they raided it in
According to the indictment, Manafort`s company told the special counsel`s
office that they had a hard and fast policy of not retaining records for
anything older than 30 days ago. That`s why they didn`t have anything to
offer them on these contested lobbying matters.
Imagine how peaceful your life could be if you could just wire your own
brain that way. It was more than 30 days ago? Sorry.
Must be nice, right? You`d be constantly living in the moment. No trauma
too big as long as it`s old.
The government says, though, that in their raid of Paul Manafort`s home in
Virginia, they turned up records older than 30 days that showed lobbying
work that Manafort and Gates had denied participating in. So, that gives
us one clear view on what the government thinks they got, what they earned
in that pre-dawn raid on Manafort`s house in Alexandria back in the summer.
Now, in terms of what we learned from the Manafort and Gates indictment, we
also got a list from the government of overseas corporations that Manafort
and Gates allegedly used not only to get paid from foreign sources, but to
pay for stuff here in the U.S. The government uses that list of companies
and extensive list of alleged wire transfers from those companies to
basically make two allegations. They say that Manafort laundered money by
purchasing real estate. He would use overseas shell corporations and buy
real estate in the U.S., then he would use that real estate in the U.S. as
collateral for taking out a loan for cash. And that was a way to get
liquidity, cash money that appeared to be from a legal source even though
the money originated overseas in what the government describes as an
So, money laundering is part of what the government alleges. The other
thing they are alleging, though, is tax evasion. And it`s possible, I am
not creative enough about these things, but this part I have a little bit
of a hard time getting my head around, allegations from the government on
tax evasion is that Paul Manafort was paid millions of dollars for his work
in Ukraine. That money went from Ukraine into these overseas corporations
that he controlled.
The indictment then alleges or at least what I think they`re alleging is
that when Manafort wanted to buy, like, a shirt or a rug or an antique or
the services of a guy to mow his lawn, instead of paying for that like you
or I would with cash or check or credit card, he would instead arrange for
a wire transfer from one of these strangely named overseas shell
corporations that he controlled and that had absorbed money from Ukraine.
The reason I`m saying I`m having a hard time getting my head around that is
because I can imagine large-scale wire transfers being used to purchase
million dollars properties or something or as the government appears to
allege, to buy what looks like a $500,000 life insurance policy, sure. But
you`d use this method to pay the guy who mows your lawn?
Imagine that, like, hey, thanks, Joe`s landscaping. Thanks, vendor F
landscaper in Hamptons, New York. It`s July 23rd, 2010. I realize it`s
time for me to pay the landscaping bill for you having watered the box
woods and trim the tope area or whatever. The way I`ll pay for that is
through a $19,000 Cypriot wire transfer from a company called Leviathan
You`re handling the books yourself, lawn mower Joe, or can I put the
Cypriot Leviathan Advisors Limited wire transfer payment through to your
cousin in the office? Is he still doing the books for you? I mean, that`s
what the indictment spells out.
It`s one thing to think about buying real estate that way, but they`re
saying that`s how Paul Manafort bought, like, shirts. He goes into some
clothier and says I would like to buy $3,000 worth of ties. And then he
pays for his ties with a wire transfer from Cyprus? I mean, how do they
work that out at the register? I just – maybe he gets his ties on
pallets, I don`t know.
The government indictment suggests Paul Manafort used payments from
overseas companies that he controlled to purchase more than $12 million in
consumer goods and services, including literally clothes and rugs. They
say that`s how he avoided paying income tax on that money. He got to use
it without ever recording it as income. The money technically never passed
through him. It was Lucical (ph) Consulting that need to buy cuff links,
not Paul Manafort.
Is that really what money laundering looks like? Is that what tax evasion
looks like? That process that the government described here in the
indictment, the people who look at indictments like this and who follow
white collar crime like this, is that a familiar-looking process? Here`s
one more big question that`s raised by the Manafort and Gates indictment,
again, keeping in mind that this is an indictment, these are just
government allegations. Manafort and Gates have both pled not guilty.
But there is something that doesn`t make sense in the indictment in terms
of money. Page 3 of the indictment says the government – on page 3 of the
indictment the government says, quote, in total, more than $75 million
flowed through offshore accounts. Manafort laundered more than $18 million
used by him to buy property, goods and services in the U.S., income he
concealed from the Treasury and the Department of Justice and others.
Gates transferred more than $3 million from offshore accounts to other
accounts that he controlled.
They say that in the indictment. Government then goes into great line by
line detail to explain what it was that Paul Manafort spent money on using
this weird overseas wire transfer process, right? But the math here has a
really big hole in it. They`re saying more than $75 million moves through
these accounts, but then they only account for $20 million of it. The
government makes no account of more than $50 million of that money. The
government gives no accounting basically at all for the way money came to
Gates and Manafort.
Where did that money come from? The only thing the indictment says is they
worked as agents of Ukraine and its political parties and leaders and as
such they generated tens of millions of dollars in income. But that`s all
they say. We hear nothing else about those sources of income.
And the reason I`m asking is because there`s no crime in being a rich guy.
There`s no crime in making a lot of money overseas. The question is
whether or not the income that Manafort and Gates made can be legitimately
worked – be legitimately linked to their work as political consultants and
lobbyists on behalf of Ukrainian interests. Is that where all their money
came from? Their work in Ukraine on behalf of those political parties and
Because on October 13th, NBC News reported that there had been more than
$60 million in payments made to Paul Manafort, made to overseas entities
controlled by Paul Manafort from a Russian oligarch named Oleg Deripaska.
Deripaska was a backer of the Party of Regions, which is the Ukrainian
political party Manafort worked for.
Manafort also worked for Deripaska supporting projects in other countries
like Georgia and Montenegro. In March, “The A.P.” reported Deripaska
signed Manafort up to a multi-million dollar annual contract under which
Manafort would agree to promote the interests of Vladimir Putin around the
world. Deripaska is the same Russian oligarch to whom Manafort offered
private campaign briefings when he was Trump campaign chair. During the
campaign, Manafort also reportedly met with his own business associate who
came to New York to meet with Manafort to convey to him important messages
from Oleg Deripaska regarding his country, which is Russia.
E-mails reported by “The Washington Post” and “The Atlantic” magazine
showed during the campaign Manafort was very concerned that Deripaska had
seen and reviewed and found favor in press reports about Manafort`s own
role on the campaign.
So, if Manafort took more than $60 million, not just for his work as a
consultant in Ukraine, but if he took more than $60 million specifically
from a Putin-connected Russian oligarch, and he`s on record seeming very
keen to use the Trump campaign as a way to keep that oligarch happy –
well, you know what? There`s no sign of that $60 million from Oleg
Deripaska washing through this indictment.
The government describes $75 million as moving around in there. They only
name what happened to about $20 million of it. Where is the rest of the
money? And is there anything in this indictment that proves to us that the
government definitively knows where that money is, where it came from, and
what it was for?
Joining us now is Greg Farrell. He`s an investigative reporter for
“Bloomberg News.” He`s been doing a lot of reporting on Paul Manafort and
specifically on money.
Greg, it`s really nice for you to be here. Thanks.
GREG FARRELL, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Thank you for having
MADDOW: Big day.
FARRELL: Yes, a very big day.
MADDOW: You`re an excellent follow the money reporter. What is your –
what are your biggest takeaways from the Gates/Manafort indictment?
FARRELL: The money they identified here is partly money laundering. And
you cannot have money laundering unless you have an underlying crime. And
the underlying crime they allege as you mentioned is not registering as a
foreign agent representing a government. Therefore, once you establish
that that is the crime, the alleged crime, and then all the money that
flowed from those activities can be considered money laundering. So –
MADDOW: That`s a strange way to charge money laundering, isn`t it? I
mean, FARA, FARA violations, usually the way the government deals with that
is they go to somebody, hey, you didn`t register, go back and register.
And then like Manafort and like Flynn both did, you retroactively register
and that kind of cleans that up.
MADDOW: Describing all of the money that came out of Ukraine lobbying as
essentially, you know, black ledger money, it`s money that would be illegal
because of its origins feels like – feels like they`re pushing it there.
FARRELL: Yes. Well, they wanted to build an air tight case on this
specific element without getting into other subjects. And that`s what
they`ve done. If you look at the voluminous documents and lists of wire
transfers that were made, it`s very, you know, this would be very difficult
if the underlying premise – and they`ve got lawyers, you know, like
Michael Dreben backing this up. The underlying premise is that this is
prosecutable, the FARA violation.
MADDOW: And does it make sense to you, the government`s case here depends
on Manafort and Gates bending over backwards to avoid FARA registering, to
avoid seeming like foreign agents, to avoid actually getting on the right
side of the law with that work for Ukraine. Why would they go to such an
incredible extent to avoid doing that? That`s a part of it that doesn`t
ring for me.
FARRELL: Yes, partly in their defense, this is not prosecuted like – it`s
very rarely prosecuted.
FARRELL: So, it`s one of these things – well, everybody passes through
this red light. So, you`re suddenly going to pull me over for passing
through the red light? And the answer is, yes.
MADDOW: On the tax evasion part of this, I am puzzled, as I just
explained, by the idea that Manafort, according to the indictment, appears
to have been paying, like, for suits and shirts and stuff using overseas
wire transfers from these companies that he had based in places like the
Grenadines and Cyprus. How do you read that?
FARRELL: Well, that`s to show that this is not just hastily, but it`s a
very thoroughly, you know, researched and constructed indictment. In
addition to that, look at the big purchases of real estate in New York.
You know, five, $6 million transferred to buy a couple of properties here.
So, those are significant, yes.
There`s the antique rug store and there`s like the guy who cuts the lawn in
the Hamptons. But there are some big ticket items there as well including
MADDOW: And when you have covered tax evasion and other kinds of – when
you`ve seen things like that prosecuted in the past, is that sort of a
pattern of payment and the use of overseas entities like that, is that
something you`ve ever seen before?
FARRELL: Not to this scale. This is – this is pretty significant.
MADDOW: Greg Farrell, investigative reporter for “Bloomberg News” – thank
you very much for helping us understand this. I have a feeling it`s going
to take a long time to unpack it. Thank you, Greg. Thanks a lot.
FARRELL: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Still have lots more questions. One of the U.S.
attorneys that President Trump fired will be join being us here tonight in
just a moment. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Behold the first public comment on behalf of the Trump campaign
chairman on the day that the Trump campaign chairman was hit with a 12-
count felony indictment. Behold.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think you all saw it today that President
Donald Trump was correct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Of course, he was, of course that`s what the indictment says to
all of us.
Fishing for a presidential pardon was not the worst way for Paul Manafort`s
lawyer to start his first public remarks today. But whether or not Paul
Manafort ends up getting one may hinge on whether the president looks at
Paul Manafort`s legal trouble and sees liability for himself. Either in
what Paul Manafort is alleged to have done or in what the president might
know Paul Manafort has in his head about his own experiences on the
Joining us now is Paul Fishman. He was the U.S. attorney for New Jersey,
for 7 1/2 years, overseeing multiple criminal investigations and
prosecutions involving political corruption. He was fired by Mr. Trump
earlier this year.
Mr. Fishman, thank you very much for being here.
PAUL FISHMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: It`s nice to be back.
MADDOW: When you read the indictment and the documents are released about
George Papadopoulos today, you sort of – you`re seeing them from a
prosecutor`s point of view. What seems most surprising or most important
FISHMAN: Well, I think one of the things that`s clear is Bob Mueller and
his staff don`t like the fact that they were lied to in the middle of an
investigation involving national security. And they interviewed this
fellow in January, on January 27th. Coincidentally, the night that Jim
Comey went to the White House to have dinner with the president, I think.
They interviewed with him –
FISHMAN: They interviewed Papadopoulos at great length. He obviously
didn`t tell them the truth. They interviewed him again with his lawyer in
February. He promised he would cooperate, said he would cooperate. Didn`t
correct any of the statements, misstatements he made in January.
And obviously they did a lot of research and a lot of digging because they
got access to his e-mails, his old Facebook account. If you look at the –
if you look at the plea, I was interviewed the second tie by the FBI on
February 16th, I think. And on February 17th, he deleted his entire
Facebook account and put up a new one that had no content related to the
FBI and Bob Mueller`s office obviously got that archived Facebook account
and they were able to figure out exactly what he did. In the middle of an
investigation like this, that is a huge mistake for somebody who actually
they can prove did something like that.
MADDOW: And then once they charge him –
MADDOW: – there is a long distance – there is a long period of time that
elapses between when they charge him, when they arrest him and charge him,
and when he finally pleads. They describe him as proactively cooperating
during that time. What does that mean?
FISHMAN: So, two things are generally happening in that time period. If
that happens, one is somebody is being as law enforcement calls it
completely debriefed. They want to ask him once he agrees to cooperate,
everything he knows, everything he did himself, everything that he knows
about every person he`s talked to, any information he can provide to the
FBI and the prosecutors that relates either to the jeopardy in which he
finds himself and the stuff he`s done or anything else he might know about.
And then they have to make a decision, the prosecutors and the agents, is
there an opportunity to use somebody like him proactively. Typically, what
that might mean is that he wears a wire and may have gone to talk to
people. So, it is possible, I don`t know, but it is possible that since
the end of July until the beginning of October, he may have had
conversations with some of the people mentioned in his charges running back
at them to say, hey, how about that time I asked you to meet with the
Russians and you said, OK, something like that?
MADDOW: And so people on the campaign or people who may have been involved
in Trump world some way who had conversations with him since July 27th will
know that that`s a possibility.
FISHMAN: And there is a good chance those conversations took place if they
were recorded by the FBI.
MADDOW: If – is there anything that we should read into the fact that the
Papadopoulos information was unsealed today on the same day that the
Manafort and Gates indictment was unsealed? They don`t appear to have very
much to do with one another other than the fact they are both Trump
related. Is – could that be a coincidence, would they otherwise do these
things in the same day if they weren`t connected?
FISHMAN: No, I think – maybe simply that Mueller and his team want to
send a message they are serious and they are making progress. And they
also – there is a common thread between the two, is it Manafort and Gates
and Papadopoulos had – were guilty of deceptive conduct. And I think that
One of the things I took away from both documents, I don`t know if you
noticed this when you read them is that the Manafort indictment talks about
the fact that FBI had access to lots of e-mails through a judicially
approved search warrant. Papadopoulos` plea also talked about the e-mails
that the Mueller team had access to.
So, it`s pretty clear that they are very aggressively using judicially
authorized search warrants to get to the e-mails of people who may have
been involved in these and other episodes. And so, that`s an important
investigative technique. It`s one the prosecutors and agents like to use
and I wouldn`t be surprised to see that surface again.
MADDOW: One last question on those emails, and the Papadopoulos documents.
There aren`t names of other campaign officials. They are supervisor and
another sort of generic terms like that. We can figure out who some of
those people are because of other reporting about other pieces of those e-
mails. Is there a reason why those people`s names would be left out of
FISHMAN: Yes, typically, the Justice Department`s policy if somebody
hasn`t been implicated in documents in court, either through evidentiary
filings or through a guilty plea, it`s the policy not to name those people
in those kinds –
MADDOW: Even if you can suss out who they are?
FISHMAN: Even if people can suss out, sometimes it is more obvious in
other cases in different cases. But that`s president reason for it. But
if you read the motion to seal the plea of Papadopoulos which took place –
the plea agreement which took place on October 5th, that motion talks about
the reason they were – the documents were sealed for the last three weeks.
And that`s because the FBI was trying to interview people involved in that
case, may well be those people were people who were interviewed or that the
FBI took a run at them.
MADDOW: Paul Fishman, former U.S. attorney from the great state of New
Jersey, thank you very much.
FISHMAN: Thanks again. Nice to see you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got more questions. I feel like the more I
understand about this the more fired up I get. I could figure this out.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: On big days in American politics, two things happen in my mind
whether I want them to or not. First is I start imagining this music
wherever I go, whatever I do. And second, I get an urge to talk to my
friend Chris Matthews.
Before we learned that today would be – turn off the election. Thank you.
Before we learn that today would be the first day of indictments and guilty
pleas to criminal charges in the new administration, I had asked Mr.
Matthews to come in tonight to talk about his new book on Bobby Kennedy,
which is called “A Raging Spirit.” It comes out tomorrow. It`s great. It
is beautifully written and I learned lots of stuff, including stuff I felt
guilty I didn`t know before reading it.
Now, I have the world`s greatest excuse to pin Chris down on this huge day
in the news as well as his new book.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST, “HARDBALL”: Thank you. Aren`t you nice?
MADDOW: Thank you for being here.
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s a big night and I think it is an historic night. And
I think that if I were the president, I`d be very disturbed because Mr.
Mueller is a very organized man. I think his iconic carrying of that
attache case around would scare the hell out of Trump. Trump doesn`t mind
commentary. He sort of enjoys, he basks in it.
But facts hurt him. And I think today, you saw Mueller`s very systematic
approach. We`re going to take a guy you never heard of before named George
Papadopoulos, and he was the first guy to sort of receive the Russian
overture. He was the one to hurt for it, before Jared. He heard in April,
as you pointed out. And he knows he`s going to proceed very systematically
like a steam roller and he brings in, why did he bring in Manafort today?
To remind him that his life is in jeopardy.
That he`s 70-year-old man, he`s going to face 30 or 40 years in prison if
he doesn`t play ball. So, anything Manafort has done or overheard or has
reason to know about, he`s going to produce it. I think that`s what`s
MADDOW: Thinking about the president at a personal level, him reacting to
MADDOW: – in his business life, he ran a small business. I mean, it had
a lot of money, and did a lot of stuff, but there weren`t a lot of people
who worked in the Trump Organization. And the great preponderance of them
were his children. He`s not used to having people who are working on his
behalf whose own behavior can get him in trouble –
MADDOW: – and reflect on him.
And I was – I mean, and when we talk about the president bringing family
members into the administration, having Ivanka working there, having Jared
working there and what that means, the great precedent for that, of course,
is Bobby Kennedy. Coming in and being the attorney general for his
brother. That decision-making process that they went through about having
him there because Jack Kennedy trusted him more than anybody else in the
I mean, I feel like it`s the hall of mirrors version of what we`re seeing
here with this kind of nepotism now.
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s a mirror image in the sense as the opposite because
Bobby took care of Jack. Now, Trump has to take care of his family. Bobby
was the one who was the chief counsel on the Rackets Committee. He was the
Bobby was the one who got him elected senator, got him elected president.
Bobby was the one he called when the Bay of Pigs crashed down and he got –
the whole thing was going the wrong way, come back, Bobby, I need you.
During the Cuban missile crisis, Bobby was the one that said, let me get my
guy Bolshakoff (ph). Maybe we`ll trade for the Turkish missiles. He came
up with that idea. He also said we`ll answer the first letter not the
second letter from Khrushchev. We`ll work it out.
And the crisis hit in Birmingham, when all those African-American kids were
being hit by those jet streams, by those police and the police dogs were
biting them on television, Bobby was the one that got together and raised
the money to get them out of jail. Bobby was the one that met with James
Baldwin and his people, figured out we have to do something. It clicked on
It was a great scene in Robert Drew`s documentary were Jack and Bobby were
in the same room, with Kennedy, O`Donnell and all the others, Ted Sorensen,
and Bobby says, Jack, you got to go on television. You got to come out for
civil rights. You have to do it.
And Jack is demurring – I don`t know if this is the right time. Bobby
said this is the time.
Bobby was – he was amazingly good. How is that for a word? He was good.
He had a moral authority.
Imagine being a white person, I hate talking like this, but let`s face it.
We`re a racially divided country in many ways. He went into Indianapolis
the night Martin Luther King was killed.
He had to go in and tell an African-American crowd in a tough neighborhood,
the police wouldn`t go in with him. He said, I`m going in. I have to go.
And he stood in front of that crowd on the top of a truck and he said,
Martin Luther King has just been killed.
You know how you could hear from the old NBC tape. He said, do they know
yet? The guy says, they don`t know yet. He had to tell them.
Who has the moral authority today to say, to a group that has reason to be
rebellious literally over what happened? He said we have to live together.
We have to love each other.
He said things like, my brother was killed by a white man. I understand,
it sounded a little hokey at the time. But my God, it was his way of
saying, you know what, I`ve been a victim, too. My family has been a
And I think when you see the train pictures on the book of the white
families saluting him and the families singing “The Battle Hymn of the
Republic”, what leader today has the moral authority to bring both
communities together and say, maybe you don`t hang out with each other but
you can have the same goals as a country and a patriotic spirit about it?
What I wanted to do writing this book before I knew I was writing it to say
Trump isn`t the American reality, there is a spirit to this country about
hope and getting together and empathy for people in trouble that survives
the `60s. And he is the spirit of it, Bobby.
MADDOW: “Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit” is Chris Matthews` new book.
Historic day today.
MADDOW: I feel like history kind of hits you hard on a day like today.
It`s really hard to get away from, I mean, this is – today`s the
anniversary of the day that Cap Weinberger was indicted. Today is the
anniversary of the day the House Judiciary Committee first voted to start
proceedings against Nixon and this stuff comes and you can never on – the
bigger the news day, the further, the harder to get away from history.
MATTHEWS: If I were Trump, I remember one thing about Watergate and I`d
keep in my head, it wasn`t a political argument. It wasn`t what Jimmy
Breslin said it was good, the guys who finally shot strange or whatever,
the good guys finally won. It was about fact.
And in the end, the courts produced the 23rd June tape about Nixon covering
up and all the talk Nixon said, I didn`t do it, I didn`t do it countered by
the fact and Trump has to deal with is, his factual argument was, there was
no Russian effort to influence our election.
MADDOW: Wrong, wrong.
MATTHEWS: And he said there was no participation. Now, we`ve got a guy
named Papadopoulos. We`ve got a guy named Jared Kushner. I`m sorry. They
were flirting with a collusion and now, we have to go to the next step and
see if they really did collude. But he`s been wrong all along. He`s been
denying everything and there`s a thing there.
MADDOW: Yes. And when that thing is adjudicated through the judicial
process, facts win.
MATTHEWS: Right. Well said.
MADDOW: Chris Matthews.
MATTHEWS: Your show tonight has been as always stellar.
MADDOW: Very nice to me.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
MADDOW: More ahead. Stay with us.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
MADDOW: It`s one thing for me to say that the first criminal charges and
the first guilty plea in this administration, those things feels historic.
It`s one thing for me to assert that. That is an assertion that can be
Joining us now is NBC presidential historian Michael Beschloss.
Michael, thank you for being with us tonight.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Of course.
MADDOW: So, looking back at Watergate, looking back at Iran-Contra,
looking back at other presidential scandals that resulted in criminal
charges, how do you see this news today fitting on that number line?
BESCHLOSS: This has the potential to go way beyond because those were not
really scandals that primarily involved a hostile power. You know, what we
saw today was the beginning of an escalating chain that might lead to
evidence, that people around the president or possibly even the president
himself were machinating to collude with a foreign power that is hostile to
us. That`s something that we haven`t seen before.
But, you know, Rachel, what we saw today I think was sort of like Watergate
before John Dean testified and before we knew that there were tapes. This
is really the first inning. Whether this leads to something grave like,
you know, impeachment and conviction, we don`t know tonight.
MADDOW: It was an interesting pair of stories today. Obviously, the Trump
campaign chairman, there`s no further up in the campaign that you could go
than the chair.
BESCHLOSS: Right. Can`t go higher.
MADDOW: And also, this relatively anonymous figure, this foreign policy
adviser, young man who had inflated his own resume famously during the
campaign who most people couldn`t have named him let alone picked him out
of the lineup before today. The obscurity of Papadopoulos, how does that
factor? Are there historical echoes there?
BESCHLOSS: That`s the way an investigation begins. You know, the first
witness in the Senate Watergate hearings was a guy no one remembers named
Robert Odle, who was sort of mid level official in Nixon reelection
committee, and they began with him and they worked upwards and the circle
The irony with Papadopoulos is that one of the things that Nixon was
accused of was taking foreign money from the Greek junta in the 1968
campaign and that junta of all things total coincidence was led by a man
named, of all things, George Papadopoulos.
MADDOW: You`re serious?
BESCHLOSS: I`m serious.
BESCHLOSS: History does rhyme.
MADDOW: There`s a Watergate George Papadopoulos too, and one now. Wow.
Michael Beschloss, NBC presidential historian, thank you for being here.
BESCHLOSS: Circle turns. Thank you, Rachel. Be well.
MADDOW: See, we have to sort out the George Papadopouloses. We`ll be
MADDOW: That does it for us this evening. I`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”, where I have a
feeling I have some vague sense of what Lawrence will be discussing this
Good evening, Lawrence.
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